Title BBC Active talk 2
Publisher BBC Languages
ISBN Spanish 978-1-4066-1294-3
French 978-1-4066-1287-5
Italian 978-1-4066-1290-5
Reviewer Duncan Byrne
   

Although the BBC is best known for its resources for adult learners, the Talk2 series struck me as being of potential use for secondary language teachers, either in the classroom or as part of an independent study programme, perhaps using a multimedia language lab.
I have reviewed the French, Spanish and Italian versions of Talk2, which are aimed at those who have some linguistic knowledge. As such, it could be use as a means of extension in years 8 and 9, but, as it was originally intended to be of use to adults travelling abroad, the largely transactional topic areas correlate exactly with those of GCSE and the course covers the essential vocabulary and roleplay scenarios very thoroughly. It is probably the listening material that I envisage to be of most use to young learners. English is generally used as the language for instructions; the course therefore lends itself to independent study as students can readily access the exercises. The listening passages avoid over-complexity (the drawback of many a GCSE textbook), are relatively short but practise the key vocabulary of the topic very intensively, and therefore constitute an ideal extension or reinforcement activity particularly when independent learning may be taking place.
There is nevertheless a variety of other attractive activities for the secondary teacher: grammar exercises are well constructed, but short enough to prevent them becoming the sole focus of a lesson; written tasks are very well suited to the demands of Higher Level GCSE; and there are interesting reading comprehensions on topics of cultural interest. The latter are clearly aimed at the adult learner wishing to discover more about the culture into which he may be travelling, but are also the type which motivate able teenage learners, bored of the ‘death by 100 baguettes’ approach of GCSE.
The problem of integrating such a resource into a scheme of work remains. Although the cost (£14.99) is much reduced in comparison with previous generations of adult language-learning resources, budgets will rarely allow a class set to be purchased for an additional resource such as this. The audio recordings may therefore perhaps be the easiest part of the course to use. However, it also strikes me that this could be just the thing for a motivated child seeking to teach himself an additional language, or else in preparation for a 6th form GCSE or IB ab initio course. There is certainly a great deal of potential in the resources created by the BBC, but creativity will be needed by a school seeking to integrate Talk2 into a broader Scheme of Work. With sufficient vision and planning time, elements of Talk2 combined with the excellent resources on the www.bbc.co.uk/languages website (particularly Ma France) could greatly enhance our traditional GCSE fare.